Friday, August 10, 2012

Roasted Tomato Paella

One of the many regrets I have after moving back to the United States from Spain, is that I didn't learn how to make authentic Spanish Paella from one of our many Spanish friends. I had a deal with one of the Spanish Firefighters my husband worked with; I would teach him how to make cheesecake and in exchange he would teach me how to make Paella. Sabio's Paella was legendary and my cheesecake was too (at least around the Fire Station haha).Unfortunately, we never made the time and before we knew it, it was time to move back to the US.

The Sunflower Fields of Spain
This Paella is a much simpler version, but still captures those authentic Spanish flavors of Saffron and Smoked Paprika. It reminds me of some of the happiest days of my life... those spent with some amazing friends in Spain.

Roasted Tomato Paella
Serves Approx 6-8
Adapted from Mark Bittman

3 cups low sodium chicken stock
1/4 cup Olive Oil
1 medium onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
Pinch of Spanish Saffron
1-2 teaspoons Smoked Spanish Paprika
Salt & Pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon Tomato Paste
1/4 cup white wine (Albarino, Spanish white wine would be great. I used a Sauvignon Blanc)
2 cups Calasparra or Bomba Paella Rice or any other small grain (I used Arborio)
1 lb tomatoes (I used Roma)
Chopped fresh Parsley for garnish

A few helpful tips for this recipe:

Use good quality tomatoes, olive oil and wine. Substitute additional Chicken Stock if you don't want to use wine.

Authentic Paella rice can be hard to find. Any other short grain rice will work. I used Arborio Rice that I purchased from the bulk bins at Sprouts.

Use authentic Spanish Smoked Paprika from the La Vera region of Spain. I use the Smoked Sweet Paprika that I buy at,(believe it or not), Homegoods.

Saffron can be expensive. The best deal I've found is from Trader Joe's. You get .020oz for $5.99. I used a large pinch in this recipe which was about half of the bottle.


Preheat oven to 450 degrees farenheit

Core and slice tomatoes into thick wedges (approx 1/2" thick). Place the slices in a bowl. Season with salt & pepper (to taste) and toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Set aside.

Warm the 3 cups of stock in a small saucepan. Keep warm over low heat until ready to use. Do not boil or some of the liquid may evaporate.

Heat the remaining olive oil over medium heat in a large 10-12"ovenproof pan/skillet. Add the onions and garlic, season with a little salt & pepper and saute until transluscent and fragrant (approx 5 minutes).

Add the Saffron, Tomato Paste and Smoked Paprika. Stir well to combine.

Add the rice and stir to combine. Continue stirring until shiny, approx 1 minute.

Add the wine and stir until absorbed. For me, this was pretty much immediately after I added it. Then add all of the warm stock and stir to combine.

Layer the tomato slices over the rice and pour in any juices from the bottom of the bowl. I like to lay the tomatoes in a pattern for better presentation.

Place in the oven, uncovered, and cook for 15 minutes undisturbed. After 15 minutes, check the rice for doneness. The liquid should be absorbed and the rice should be tender (taste for doneness). If the rice is not to your desired doneness and all of the liquid is absorbed, add a little more liquid (either water, white wine or chicken stock) and return to the oven for 5-10 more minutes. Check for doneness again. My rice took a total of 15 minutes to cook. At that point it was done but slightly firm (al dente), which is the way we like it. 

Once the rice has reached your desired doneness, turn the oven off and leave the pan in the oven for 5-10 more minutes. Remove from oven, sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve.

**True Spanish Paella has a brown, carmelized crust at the bottom called "Socarrat". The Socarrat is considered to be the best part of the Paella & people actually fight over it. If you want to create Socarrat for this recipe, after removing from the oven, place on the stove burner for about a minute or two to create a crust, then sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve.

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